Friday, November 21, 2008

How Fear Distorts our Perceptions

After the New Kind of Quaker conference, I mentioned two kinds of spiritual journeys - a spirituality based on fear or a spirituality based on love. One of my favorite writers and bloggers, Jim Palmer, writes about how fear distorts our perceptions of reality. I have included a quote from one of his posts. You can read more of what he has to say at

"Our perception of reality is grossly distorted by fear. On an individual, family, community, city, country, hemispheric, global level we function with a fear-based mentality. We make fear-based decisions, we create and perpetuate fear-based institutions, we invest endless resources of every kind to fend off or neutralize things we fear. It’s always in the back of our mind…what if. It is so ingrained that we never question the notion that life is an endless number of people, outcomes, conditions, and circumstances to fear. We live in fear. It is the air that we breathe, and the undercurrent to everything that transpires. We fear lack, death, separation, condemnation, aloneness, loss, disease, and calamity. We feel it - nothing is safe, life is not safe. Every imagined fear is held to be an unquestioned certainty, it’s just the way it is. Only a blind idiot cannot see that fear is real and logical and a force that we must contend with in every moment and decision of our lives.
But what if there really isn’t anything to fear? You know, “there is nothing to fear but fear itself.” What if the entire system of fear is a house of cards, and the only thing propping it up is your, my, our belief in it. What if there is no fear apart from the fear we have created and empowered as a result of imagining and believing there is something to fear. What if there is really no lack, or no separation, or no condemnation, or no death, or no calamity?What would happen if each of us, one by one, began divesting ourselves from all fear? What if each of us began to call fear’s bluff? What if we took every fear-thought captive, and refused to live in fear. What if we totally ceased from giving our energies to fear? What if lived in this world and related to one another without fear? I don’t mean positive thinking or hoping there really isn’t anything to fear, but knowing confidently without any flinch that fear isn’t real. In other words, fear is always dialing up for us a response on what to think, what to do, what to choose, how to act, what to feel, etc. But what if we didn’t follow the response that fear dialed up? We ignored it, didn’t listen, and instead followed through with knowing there is nothing to fear?
What might this involve or look like if you, me, we…tomorrow morning…began collapsing the illusion of fear in our own lives? What would that look like for you?"

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